The Democrats new Strategy:
"America: We're the Bad Guys"
Last year we had what appeared to be a serious, or at least half-serious, conversation about torture and how far we should go. But the situation is now completely out of control.
Senator Dick Durbin's outrage is just the last straw. We've listened for months to Howard Dean rant and rave in ever more incoherent terms.
Durbin claims it's the "right-wing media" that's blowing it all out of proportion, that we've been saying that he's "...been insulting men and women in uniform," but that "Nothing could be farther from the truth." As usual, he doesn't get it. And he hides behind the old "I support the troops" (er, "men and women", the new in phrase).
To show how insane and irresponsible Durbin is, Rowan Scarborough reminded us of the real differences between Guantanamo Bay and the Gulag (via Powerline)
Adolf Hitler - About 9 million dead
Soviet gulags - About 2.7 million dead
Pol Pot - About 1.7 million dead
Gitmo - zero dead
Gitmo - five instances of Koran abuse by prison guards
Gitmo-15 instances of Koran abuse by prisoners
Many other Democrats, and at least one Republican, say that we need to close down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. But in absolutely none of the articles that I've read are any reasonable alternatives offered. I looked at where we might move them in a post on Redhunter and found nothing satisfactory. The latest nonsense I heard on the radio yesterday (I forget from who) was to disperse them in U.S. prisons (now that I think about it, it might have been McCain. I'm not sure). That's a great idea, that way they'll be able to recruit disaffected Americans. From what I read we've already got a problem with radical Islam in some of our prisons.
The Quest for Moral Perfection
What it all comes down to is the usual liberal demand for moral perfection: Unless we act perfectly we are no better than our enemy. Think that too strong? Listen to Howard Dean. Listen again the the Senate Minority Whip compare Gitmo to the worst of the twentieth-century.
To be sure, some Democrats have "distanced" themselves from the likes of Dean and Durbin. But Ted Kennedy continues unabated. And from what I could tell from the Democrat National Convention last summer, they absolutely love him. And no one had a problem with Jimmy Carter inviting Michael Moore to sit with him.
But the new line from the left, that we are a terrible nation because of Gitmo, is not really new at all. We saw it during the Cold War, "How can we say the Soviets are bad when we have (fill in the blank) in this country?"
I hear "we have to win the moral battle too!" Well, yes. But I think we've already got that covered. The issue is that people who go over-the-top in their rhetoric condemning the US for some perceived outrage have no sense of relative justice (that is so alien to so many on the left). We don't have to be perfect to hold the moral upper hand, we have to be better. And we are so far different than the Islamists that one doesn't know where to begin. On the left, however, there is always the demand for moral perfection, and if one of our soldiers accidentally "disgraces" a Koran, all is lost.
Yes, what we do to the prisoners at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay is tough stuff. Not for the faint-of heart. It is also necessary stuff, and thank heavens we have people willing to do it.
Anyone who says that the prisoners should have Geneva Convention protections, or even complains that they haven't had "fair trials" does not know what they're talking about, as I have demonstrated on Redhunter.
Wesley Pruden had it about right this morning when he said that "...the constant focus on sins, mistakes and misadventures at the military prison at Guantanamo, which has surely reached its illogical conclusion in the hysteria of Richard Durbin, the Democratic chief of sordid Senate hyperbole, is a suicide pact."
Laura Ingraham said that the Democrats new strategy was "We're the bad Guys" and she had it exactly right too. It's the over-the-top "we're so terrible" routine". Rather than discuss what makes good foreign policy, they are consumed with "the rest of the world hates us", as if foreign affairs was a high school student government election.
But for however far Democrats want to "distance" themselves from Dean and Durbin, they so far have refused to take the necessary step of looking hard at themselves and asking "is this the message we want to send to the American people?" Because the message that they are sending is the "blame America first" one that we heard some forty years ago.
So back to Jimmy Carter we go. The "blame American First" crowd is out in full force. They have turned what once seemed a reasonable debate into absolute madness. It's brilliant politics. It got Jimmy Carter zero states in 1980.
Update: Durbin Apologizes - NOT
From Turban Durbin's website:
“More than 1700 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and our country’s standing in the world community has been badly damaged by the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. My statement in the Senate was critical of the policies of this Administration which add to the risk our soldiers face.”
“I will continue to speak out when I disagree with this Administration.”
“I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.”
Is he admitting that he misused and misunderstood the historical parallel? Or that he misused it, but we misunderstood it? Maybe that everyone else misused what he said and misunderstood the parallel? Or is he just so twisted up himself that he doesn't even know?
But if he did mean to apologize on his website, he certainly didn't on Chicago radio WGN 720 this morning. Durbin was interviewed by host Spike O'Dell, and the transcript is on Hugh Hewitt's website. Here's the opening:
Q. No regrets on the statements you made?
Durbin: No, I don't, and I'll tell you why. I went to the floor and read a memo from the FBI. This isn't something I made up. It was a memo that was unclassified, was disclosed, and I'm going to take, if I can ask you to bear with me, I'm going to read the highlights of it because it really sets the stage for my comments....[reads investigator memo] It goes on and on and on. I read this into the record because there has been a lot of controversy about what is happening in Guantanamo Bay where we have held 500 to 700 people for some times up to two and a half years with no charges. The Supreme Court has ruled that this Administration's new interrogation policy under Secretary Rumsfeld violates basic rights and I said if I just read this to you and you didn't know where it came from, where would you think this could happen? In the Nazi regime, in the soviet regime? Sadly it happened under Americans. Now the point I was trying to make is, we have departed from standards of conduct which presidents of both parties have played by for over 50 years, and we shouldn't be doing this....
"No regrets" That doesn't sound like an apology to me.
And again, he starts to compare what we do at Guantanamo with the Nazis and Soviets! He just can't help himself. Like a drunk, he promises to go to AA, but if you hand him a bottle he guzzles it all.
Q. I guess one of the reasons people are having such a hard time with this one, is when comparisons are made and you use names like Nazis and Soviet gulags, when you are talking Nazis there were what, 9 million people killed in the camps there. The gulags had about 3 million and so forth. And I know Gitmo is not the Holiday Inn down there, but I don't think anyone has died down there, have they?No, fool, I wouldn't think that it was done by some of the most repressive regimes in history, because I've read my history and you haven't.
Durbin: No, that's true. In all fairness, they did not. But I don't believe we were dealing with deaths at Abu Ghraib either. We were dealing with a situation where when people saw the digital camera photographs, they said "My God! Americans should not be involved in that kind of conducrt." Now I will not demean or diminish the terrible atrocities that were commtted by the Soviets and the Nazis. The points I was, the point I was trying to make there was, if I just read this to you and say "What kind of country, what kind of governemtn would do that," and you'd think of some of the most repressive regimes in history.
And what of other Democrats?
From this morning's Washington Times:
"The noise machine of the far right never stops and it's gotten so much more in operation in the last few weeks," he said. "This is all a distraction by the White House."Nor did he indirectly address it.
But Mr. Reid did not directly address Mr. Durbin's gulag comparison.
Mr. Durbin quickly appeared on the Senate floor but offered no apology. He read that part of his speech again.See what I told you about no apology?
Several Democrats ducked the furor yesterday.I'll bet the didn't.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, declined to comment, saying she had not heard Mr. Durbin's speech. When a reporter read the passage to her, she declined again.
The offices of Democratic Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut did not answer calls for comment.
Blogger Dave Logan called the offices of John Thune, Charles Schumer, John McCain, Harry Reid, and Hillary Clinton. Only Thune condemned Durbin.
The Washington Post reports too that Durbin "defends his comments". The Boston Herald has called for his resignation. Ditto that.
I can't find any Democrats who have criticized him yet.
But oh no, not all the Democrats have gone insane. Just the ones who are holding a mock impeachment hearing of our president.
Me? I love Gitmo!
Monday Morning Update
Nothing new on Senator Durbin's website. I searched the Washington Post, Washington Times, CNN, and Fox News websites and didn't see much new. Certainly no criticism of Durbin from Democrats. If it's there, please let me know.
In fact, according to the Times, it's business as usual for Durbin:
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who has caused a firestorm of protest for comparing treatment of U.S. detainees to actions by "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others," will be marched out by the Democratic National Committee tomorrow evening to appear alongside DNC Chairman Howard Dean at a "Paint the Nation Blue" fundraising event.Bill Kristol has it right; make the Democrats demand Durbin resign.
Why not put the burden on the Democrats? When Sen. Trent Lott made a far less damaging, but still deplorable, statement two and a half years ago, his fellow Republicans insistedThe Democrats need to do the right thing and at least make him step down as leader.
he step down as their leader. Shouldn't Democrats insist that Sen. Durbin step down as their whip, the number two man in their leadership? Shouldn't conservatives (and liberals) legitimately ask Democrats to hold their leader to account, especially given the precedent of Lott?
Unless I'm missing something, The Nation has been silent on the issue. I thought better of David Corn.
And as usual Mark Steyn nails it (hat tip Instapundit)
Throughout the last campaign season, senior Democrats had a standard line in their speeches, usually delivered with righteous anger, about how "nobody has a right to question my patriotism!" Given that nobody was questioning their patriotism, it seemed an odd thing to harp on about. But, aware of their touchiness on the subject, I hasten to add that in what follows I am not questioning Dick Durbin's patriotism, at least not for the first couple of paragraphs. Instead, I'll begin by questioning his sanity
But give Durbin credit. Every third-rate hack on every European newspaper can do the Americans-are-Nazis schtick. Amnesty International has already declared Guantanamo the "gulag of our times." But I do believe the senator is the first to compare the U.S. armed forces with the blood-drenched thugs of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Way to go, senator!
Now let us turn to the ranking Democrat, the big cheese on the committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Leahy thinks Gitmo needs to be closed down and argues as follows:
"America was once very rightly viewed as a leader in human rights and the rule of law, but Guantanamo has drained our leadership, our credibility, and the world's good will for America at alarming rates."
So, until Guantanamo, America was "viewed as a leader in human rights"? Not in 2004, when Abu Ghraib was the atrocity du jour. Not in 2003, when every humanitarian organization on the planet was predicting the deaths of millions of Iraqis from cholera, dysentery and other diseases caused by America's "war for oil." Not in 2002, when the "human rights" lobby filled the streets of Vancouver and London and Rome and Sydney to protest the Bushitler's plans to end the benign reign of good King Saddam. Not the weekend before 9/11 when the human rights grandees of the U.N. "anti-racism" conference met in South Africa to demand America pay reparations for the Rwandan genocide and to cheer Robert Mugabe to the rafters for calling on Britain and America to "apologize unreservedly for their crimes against humanity." If you close Gitmo tomorrow, the world's anti-Americans will look around and within 48 hours alight on something else for Gulag of the Week.
And this is where it's time to question Durbin's patriotism. As Leahy implicitly acknowledges, Guantanamo is about "image" and "perception" -- about how others see America. If this one small camp of a few hundred people has "drained the world's good will," whose fault is that?
Read the whole thing.
(Apologies if the typefont doesn't come out right. Blogger can be difficult to work with sometimes when you copy-and-paste from certain sources. If any of my fellow Conserva-puppies can clean it up better I'd be obliged.)
Tuesday Evening Update
Durbin apologies! From the AP/Washington Post:
Under fire from Republicans and some fellow Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures.
"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," the Illinois Democrat said. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."
His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks.
"They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them," he said.
Well that's nice, that he - finally - did the right thing.
So...we "put it behind us", and "move on", right?
Not so fast, pal. Too little, and way too late. The damage has been done. Al-Jazeera has gleefully broadcast Durbin's gross speech and will no doubt continue to do so.
Durbin apologized because he saw that the criticism wasn't going to stop. He tried to weather the storm, and waited the weekend to see if it would end. Seems to me like the real Durbin was the one we heard last week. He's crying now because he seems his career flashing before his eyes, and is trying to save it. Word is that his telephone switchboard has been absolutely overloaded with calls, and he got so much email that he shut down the server.
He needs to resign his position as whip.
Trent Lott, when he made his inexcuseable comments about Thurmond, fell all over himself to apologize pretty within what, a day (as I recall). He was criticized; by the conservative press. I believe it was Jonah Goldberg in National Review (I can't find the exact link right now, so I might be wrong) who said that there were two possibilities regarding Lott's comments. Either 1) he didn't mean them in which he is a political idiot, or 2) he did mean them in which case he's a racist. Either way, he did not deserve to be the GOP leader. As we all know, he was forced to resign.
Democrats need to do the same thing with Durbin.
Wednesday - Final Update
I hate to spoil the fun, but this is going to be my final update on this post.
As predicted, we're now told we should forget this and "move on"
Immediately after Mr. Durbin's remarks, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, said that should be the end of the discussion. Mr. Lieberman said trying "to fester this some more is doing a disservice to the Senate and to our country." Mr. McCain said the apology was the "right thing, the courageous thing, and I believe we can put this issue behind us."Ah yes. Put it behind us.
Captain Ed sums up my thoughts:
At least this is an apology, instead of a "statement of regret". However tearfully delivered, though, it still contains qualifiers that shift the responsibility to everyone but Durbin. "Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line, and to them I extend my heartfelt apologies."
No, no, no.
Your remarks did cross the line, Senator. Why can't you just admit that, without qualification? This is yet another halfway dodge in putting the onus onto those whom you offended instead of taking responsibility for your own actions and comments.
Color me unimpressed. His fellow party members will now ask us all to move along. I'll consider doing that if they now will admit that Durbin's original statement slandered the military and debased the memories of those millions of victims that truly experienced what genocidal maniacs do with their innocent captives. If not, then they are just playing word games until they discover the right combination to climb out of the box in which Durbin has put them.
Michelle Malkin has a good summary of blogger reaction.